Putting a staff of two to four volunteers, plus their supervisor, on the hotline during Friday business hours is just one step toward the ultimate goal of operating Idaho's only statewide suicide prevention hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week, executive director John Reusser said.
The hotline's Friday hours - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. - start this week. Until now, staff has operated it Monday through Thursday. Calls that come in during off-hours are transferred to a national network of suicide hotlines and answered in other places, most commonly Portland, Ore., Reusser said.
"We want every call that comes from Idaho to be answered in Idaho," Reusser said.
The number of paid supervisors, not volunteers, is the limiting factor on expanding the Idaho hotline's operating hours, Reusser said. About 40 volunteers, who've gone through 32 hours of training and at least eight hours of apprenticeship, are available to answer calls - plenty for additional shifts, he said. But the hotline doesn't have enough supervisors.
The hotline, which was launched Nov. 26 in a Boise Bench phone center, has handled more than 160 calls since being launched Nov. 26. Its operating money comes from a variety of government agencies and private non-profit groups.
For more information or to donate money, visit www.IdahoSuicidePrevention.org, or www.facebook.com/idahosuicideprevention.